This is the time of year many of us stand back (those of us with anxiety line up all our lists from the year and categorize) and take a hard look at what happened. A lot may have happened, or not. Either way, what you planned likely didn't go as planned and avenues you never planned on ended up on your map. Personally, I never thought I would enjoy working in Waterpaw fulltime! I was a Realtor not long ago - a realtor who spent too much time thinking about site plans as it turns out. I don't think our son planned on becoming the social active kid he has become over the last year. My husband certainly didn't anticipate the incredible growth of our company.
When I look back I see that much of the growth and improvements in our lives - both personal and business - occurred due to many small incremental steps made over the year. They were systemic activities that didn't take much time or effort every day but over time truly grew into helpful and insightful activities that have improved efficiency and down time.
If you take a look at the earlier Frog Blogs for instance and then read the more recent posts it is clear that I have become much better. You might think that those one paragraph blog posts took a few minutes and that these days I must take much longer. Nope. In fact, these probably take less time but have a larger impact because without realizing it I was practicing Kaizen. Kaizen is defined by the Kaizen Institute as "the practice of continuous improvement." The thing is though it isn't sudden and difficult change or improvement it is small efforts over time to achieve a goal. It is suggested you begin by devoting only 1 minute a day to a specific activity and do it at the same time every day.
As I look back at this year I see that everything in which I saw great business growth and personal insight I was practicing Kai (change) zen (good). Blog, Website, Facebook, Pinterest, Ukulele, Housekeeping, Exercise Habits, Even Spelling (honestly not a thing I was very good at until very recently). I simply created a schedule that didn't ask a lot of me or my time and discovered that I was capable of a lot when I gave it to myself in this fashion.
What does any of this have to do with water features? Well, quite a bit actually. If you have a pond think of how you feel every day when you go care for your pond and think about what it was like when you first started vs. now. How has your outlook around that activity changed and what is it about it you like. Have you allowed that habit to grow into the rest of your day? What happens when you skip care for the pond for a few weeks and how you feel when you finally tackle it... Nothing is happy, not the plants, fish, water or you. Why would that not be the same for most of your daily activities? When you are with your pond you are likely not on the phone, in a conversation or trying to do anything but net the water and care for your koi. You are devoted to that task alone for only a few minutes but it feels great to not be a distracted project "chunker" for a while!
So, although on paper I am nowhere near the targets I gave myself last December I am in fact closer to that person I wanted to be then. Kaizen - Good Change for 2017!
"Say, you are in the country; in some high land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it." Herman Melville Moby Dick
When sunset hits on the weekend you know where everybody and every event is going to be in a coast city - On the shore, in the park overlooking the water. People spend all week waiting for the weekend on the boat, at the beach, on the river.... Those of us with ponds on our property or in our homes find respite there when we can't get to the bigger water. Think about the last vacation you took. Was there water there? What do you feel when you spend time near, on or in water? For most of humanity being close to water is built into ritual and cultural identity.
Often, people tell me that what we created for them initially as an aesthetic addition to their homes or yards has become a daily necessity for them. When they travel they often set up camera's to keep an eye on the #waterfall and #koi. When they come home they grab a glass of something, the dogs, the spouse and go to the pondside. It's not normally why they installed the pond. But, it's what happens. We often steer our clients toward designs they didn't think about and paths that meander through the site we designed to amplify the sound of the water as you travel the yard. The ponds, waterfalls, streams and fountains become a yard experience - the sound, scent and view of the water become the heart jewel of the yard and their home rituals.
Join the #pondlifestyle with @waterpawllc and let's design your ritual for your indoor pond this winter or your outdoor pond to be installed Spring 2017!
The farther we get as people from our natural environment the more important it is that we find ways to bring nature into our daily lives. From the deep psychological reactions to the sound of the wind, water, birds etc to the immunological benefits of a biodiverse environment it is becoming more clear that statically modern, sterile environments are bad for us.
Who doesn't love the scent of freshly mown grass, rain, the beach, blooms... We are all viscerally aware of the nature that surrounds us but often, it seems we are unconscious to the stress caused by the lack of these things in our daily lives. The sound of moving water has been proved to drop blood pressure. The scent of the beach brings many of us back to our childhoods and the days we spent lost in the sand and waves. When was the last time you noticed you were stressed?
What did you do when you felt your heart start to race? Next time you find yourself stressed and unable to go for a nature walk take a moment to listen to the sound of recorded water in the office or the sound of one of our Waterpaw waterfalls .
Remember.... Some People Feel the Rain, others just get wet...
Perhaps you have been to my website a time or two & have seen our catch phrase "It's Time for Zen." This might seem like an odd phrase for water feature designers and builders. However, we believe that what we do brings calm, joy and zen to our clients.
We frequently install ponds and features for people living on Lake Michigan, Lake Charlevoix, Walloon Lake & Crooked Lake. Often, the reaction of people when they hear this is "why would anybody with whole lake want or need a pond?" Our answer is in the actions of our clients. As soon as that pond is full of water they are already playing with it: moving rocks, planting lilies, naming their fish, netting out leaves. This isn't simply an aesthetic addition to their view it is an interactive part of their everyday.
Much like a zen sand garden the act of tending to a pond is about meditation and soothing behavior. Our service techs are some of the most chill people on the crew- they get to spend their work day in moving meditation near and in water.
Often, we will witness some of the gruffest clients turn into the softest calmest people when they are at the edge of their pond. We look at the building of a pond for a person or family as an act of giving back. Our ponds light a part of the person who bought it. We believe that our designs make the world a better place, one frog and fish at a time.